10 missing in Siachen avalanche
At least 10 soldiers of the Indian Army are missing following a major avalanche on the Siachen Glacier early this morning.
Rescue teams of the Army and the Indian Air Force were sent to the inaccessible spot with specialised equipment as hopes of finding survivors diminished. The rescuers face lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures, which can drop to minus 40°C at night.
The avalanche occurred at an altitude of 19,600 ft when a “wall of ice” buried the post — a stone bunker. A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine soldiers were at the post at the time of the incident, said Northern Army Command spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami.
A nearby helipad, that allows IAF and Army helicopters to land for supplies, was also wiped out. The avalanche occurred in the northern-most part of the 70 sq-km glacier that forms the India, Pakistan and China trijunction.Rescue operations were launched during the day but were called off at about
4 pm as temperatures dipped. “It was risky for the rescue teams. The operations will resume tomorrow,” a senior official said. Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda is supervising the operations.
The Madras Regiment is stationed in the area. Avalanches at such altitudes can be severe. Siachen doesn’t have loose snow and an avalanche involves ice blocks moving down from the heights.
The average altitude in the area is 20,000 ft and even day temperatures are minus 20° Celsius. Indian troops had occupied the glacier in 1984 after fears that Pakistan was trying to take over the area. A 109-km divide between India and Pakistan is called the actual ground position line.
Last month, four soldiers of 3 Ladakh Scouts were killed when their patrol team was hit by an avalanche.
Shoot-at-sight orders at western sector air bases
New Delhi: In a twin-pronged project to protect bases of the Indian Air Force, the Ministry of Defence has issued shoot-at-sight orders against intruders and also asked the IAF to come up with a high-tech security plan for 54 bases across the country. It is expected to cost Rs 8,000 crore.
All air bases in the western sector — Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Rajasthan — have been put on high alert following the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force station. The shoot-at-sight order would apply to any person trying to scale a boundary wall or break in through barbed wires. The second part is infusion of new technology. The MoD has revived a project for a high-tech security system at the perimeter of air bases.